Customer Review

123 of 133 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but narrow in scope, 1 Mar 2008
This review is from: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions (Hardcover)
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The field of behavioural economics is a fascinating one, which has already brought us the wonderful 'Freakonomics'. By comparison to that book this one suffers somewhat, because:

(1) There is an unremitting US-centricity here. All the examples and experiments are about typically US topics, all the conclusions are spelled out in a US context.

(2) The findings are often used as a launching point for some thoroughly unscientific moralising about how society ought to act differently.

(3) The experiments all seem rather narrow in scope. None is repeated and all seem to run on a rather small scale. It seems that as soon as one experiment throws light on a curious behaviour, it is time to move on to the next. I suspect the writers of 'Freakonomics' might have found more data to explore more fully aspects of the behaviour each time.

I was also annoyed by several chapters containing an appendix which appears right after the chapter, rather than all residing at the end.

On the plus side, Ariely writes engagingly and describes the experiments with a fair amount of humour. I paricularly enjoyed his descriptions of the experiment testing the effect of arousal on judgment.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Apr 2009 21:22:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Apr 2009 21:40:11 BDT
Mr. T. White says:
Firstly, I very nearly didn't buy the book because of your review! It was only because there were so many reviews which contradicted your opinions that I decided to give it a chance. And now I'm very glad that I did, as I found this book to be quite brilliant and definitely worth reading. Having said as much, I must now address your review with certain disagreement.

It is a very unfair criticism to disparage this book on the basis of any US bias: From what I've read so far it is very clear to me that much of what he has written has universal dimensions and connotations which are not only most interesting but quite impossible not to ponder further. It is, in other words, more of an excellent read than your review gives it credit. And, I write this as a European with an interest in behavioural economics which is far greater than my interest in US affairs.
Your criticise him for his not pondering further the results of his experiments which again is quite an unfounded criticism; insofar as the point of an experiment is to test a hypothesis and then make conclusions from same before moving on to a new experiment.

Within the first chapter it is already clear that at least one experiment is repeated and its results re-tested so it is most incorrect to say that "none is[sic - you surely mean to write 'are...'] repeated". Frankly, I am surprised that so many found your review helpful when (sorry to say...) to my eyes it seems to miss the point of the book more than most of the reviews here.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2009 13:46:36 BDT
Ray Blake says:
No, check your grammar text: 'none is' is perfectly correct.

On all other points, I believe we can agree to disagree; reviews are by their very nature subjective.

Ray

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Nov 2009 09:39:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Nov 2009 09:39:51 GMT
Mr. T. White says:
Well we may agree to disagree, but on the grammar point...

" The experiments all seem rather narrow in scope. None is repeated and all seem to run on a rather small scale. " My saying "none of them *are* repeated", is not at all incorrect as within the same sentence you use a plural classifier 'all' which stands as the sentence's objective component. I am quite comfortable with grammar, and to suggest using "are" instead of "is" was not incorrect, as you put it.

Still, grammar aside, it remains hard to explain exactly how true it is for you to say that none [of the experiments] is repeated, when the book clearly shows otherwise. Those who thumbed my comment down might also care to check which of us was right before damning my comment for no good reason.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Nov 2009 06:45:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Nov 2009 06:47:40 GMT
Ray Blake says:
I think you're wrong. I stand by my review and my grammar. Let's move on now.

Posted on 26 Dec 2009 12:09:58 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
"Not one of which is repeated" (present case) would have been grammatically correct.
"None are repeated" (present case) would also have been grammatically correct.
Now boys, stop arguing.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Dec 2011 17:15:31 GMT
M. Pandazis says:
What the hell is "present case"?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Mar 2013 23:45:11 GMT
G. S. Coates says:
The word 'none' is neither singular nor plural per se but takes its status fom the context within which it is quoted so both reviwers are correct
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